Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday criticised the Gandhi family over a chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate in the VVIP chopper scam. He cited the chargesheet to make allegations against Congress MP Ahmed Patel, a close aide of former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

“You will remember that your chowkidar brought some middlemen in the VVIP chopper deal from Dubai back to India,” he said at a rally in Dehradun. “Investigation agencies interrogated Michel ‘mama’ and others for many weeks. Based on this, a chargesheet has been filed in court. I saw reports in the media that the middlemen spoke of kickbacks to a person called ‘AP’ and another called ‘FAM’. In this chargesheet, it has been said that AP means Ahmed Patel, and FAM means Family.”

“Tell me, which family is Ahmed Patel close to?” Modi asked. “The family which no one dared to frisk even at airports is now out on bail.” The prime minister claimed that the ‘naamdar’ – a reference to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi – fled when reporters tried to ask him questions about the AgustaWestland deal.

“Corruption and Congress are inseparable,” Modi said. “The Congress wants corruption, corruption wants Congress. They create new records. Under Congress rule, corruption is on the accelerator and development on the ventilator.”

“In Congress governments, there is competition for who can be more corrupt,” the prime minister added. Mentioning several scams during the United Progressive Alliance-2 government, Modi said there is nothing that has not been tainted by the Congress’ corruption.

Modi claimed that the Congress, apart from corruption, is also on a mission to please traitors and Pakistan. “If you read their manifesto, you will know who they support,” Modi said. “In Kashmir, the Congress is with terrorists, stone-pelters, separatists...who our Army is fighting.” The prime minister referred to the manifesto as a “fraud document”.

Modi also criticised the Congress for promising to review the Armed Forces Special Powers Act if it came to power, claiming that the party wanted to repeal the Act. “If you don’t provide a protective shield to the Army, which mother will let her son join?” Modi asked. “And you are doing this only for votes?” The prime minister claimed Congress wants to ensure that Army personnel get embroiled in fake cases filed against them.

Modi claimed that the Congress did not implement the One Rank One Pension scheme for 40 years because deep within, it harbours hatred for the Army.

The Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and the results will be declared on May 23.

‘Gutter-level politics’

Ahmed Patel hit back, claiming that Modi practises “gutter-level politics”. “Modi speaks like a village head or someone doing ‘municipality politics’ in a village,” the Congress leader told ANI.

Patel also tweeted that “baseless and ludicrous allegations have been raining down” in election season. “We have full faith in the judiciary that the truth can never be concealed,” he said. But Patel added: “It seems that the ED has become an important part of the National Democratic Alliance.”

The Congress leader said that the government cannot escape real problems. “The people are asking: Why are the youth unemployed? Why are farmers worried? Why are traders facing problems?” he tweeted. Patel claimed that the BJP’s rhetoric showed that it knew it would lose the polls.